By Nick Perkins, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
Wrestling journalists can be a cynical lot. We are, by definition, supposed to remain objective. That means, when addressing a story, we need to remove passion, nostalgia, and our own opinions to look at said story without our own bias.
Most of us fail at this. It’s hard to write about professional wrestling and not let our own passion and views seep in. Oftentimes, however, in an effort to remain objective, many wrestling journalists come off as “negative.” We’ve all been guilty of it. Also, sometimes pro wrestling just sucks.
But! In honor of the holiday that comes after Halloween and before Christmas (because, yes, it is its own holiday, damn it!!), I want to write about that I’m actually thankful for in regards to professional wrestling. There are actually a lot of things wrestling fans can be thankful for this year, but this is a list compiled solely of my own opinions.
What I’m Thankful for in Professional Wrestling
Daniel Bryan’s Career: Last week, I wrote a story lamenting the Daniel Bryan heel turn (yeah, not super objective there). Illogical booking aside (you’ll hear that a lot), I am extremely thankful that Daniel Bryan is back on our television screens in a wrestling capacity. His on-air character may be a bad guy (and, judging by his performance on Smackdown this past week, he’s going to be a hell of a bad guy), but the man behind the character is one of the most inspiring people the world of professional wrestling, or the world as a whole, has ever seen. He fought for his dreams, his dreams fought for him and, now, Daniel Bryan gets to continue fighting with the best in the world (not Shane McMahon….but since this is WWE, probably at some point it will be Shane McMahon).
NXT: Many fans found themselves looking more forward to NXT Takeover than Survivor Series this year. While this is not a new fad, it is pretty fascinating that a show featuring “internet darlings” and “performance center graduates” elicits more excitement than a show featuring Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, Braun Strowman and more. NXT continues to provide enjoyable shows every week, and extremely enjoyable shows every quarter. I never thought NXT would become as big as it did, but I am so glad and so thankful that there is a wrestling show I can legitimately be excited about every week.
Shawn Michaels’ Hair (or lack thereof): When a man realizes he is going bald, he has one of two options. One, he can try to delay the inevitable through a variety of pills, creams, and wigs. Two, he can fully embrace his lack of hair and pretend that he is Jason Statham. That is the camp that I belong to, so I was pleasantly surprised when Shawn Michaels shaved off his golden-yet-thinning locks. Admittedly, he looks like of weird sans hair, but if Shawn Michaels, the proverbial “Sexy Boy” of WWE is bald then, ipso facto, being bald is sexy.
The Elite: Nobody saw it coming. When Cody (don’t you dare call him Rhodes) departed WWE, many fans expected a decent if not memorable run on the independent scene. Fans weren’t expecting much from Cody, and that is why he thrived. Cody, along with Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks, has changed professional wrestling. Since the demise of WCW, there has not been a single entity that has proven to be a worthy challenge to WWE. This is because it’s near-impossible to challenge WWE. What the Elite did was not challenge WWE. They’re not trying to compete. They’re just trying to put on the best show they can and, in doing so, they have created a viable option to the Mad Titan. With signs pointing to the Elite thinking about starting their own wrestling promotion, never has there been a better time to be an independent wrestler or an independent wrestling fan.
The most monumental wrestling stories are products of their time. In the 80’s, fans wanted cartoons, superheroes and wrestlers urging them to take their vitamins, which they got in Hulk Hogan. In 1996-1998, fans wanted to “stick it to the man” and stand up to their bosses, hence the success of the NWO, and Steve Austin. In 2018, there is a DIY culture that millennials from all over are trying to adopt. We also live in a world of “giving back” to each other and lifting each other up. This is why the Elite is so popular. They’re wrestlers, yes. They are superheroes and they’re on tv shows. But never has a group of wrestlers felt so accessible. The Elite feels like they are “one of us.” It’s the same way ECW and ROH was in years past. This time, however, the Elite has social media and YouTube to spread their message and to “give back” to fans. I’m extremely thankful for that.
WWE Network: After watching Crown Jewel a few weeks ago, I found myself feeling empty, lost, and lethargic. It was not a good feeling. So I browsed through the WWE Network and watched the documentary about Daniel Bryan’s journey to WrestleMania. Then, I watched a couple episodes of the Monday Night Wars. Then, I watched House of Hardy. Then, my girlfriend told me it was getting late and if I wanted to get any, I better get it now. So I turned wrestling off.
Seven to ten minutes later, I turned it back on and watched AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar.
The point is, whenever I find myself bemoaning the current state of WWE, I need only flip on the WWE Network to watch the moments that actually brought me joy. It’s like when Hollywood remakes a classic film that inevitably ends up sucking. Yes, the current film is terrible but you can always go back and watch the original. I find myself doing that more and more often and the WWE Network has been an extremely useful tool. Fans may get bummed when they ruin Braun Strowman or bury Daniel Bryan, but we can always go back and watch an episode of Raw is War from 1998. And for that, I am thankful.
Bonus Thanks: More than anything, I am thankful for the opportunity to write for such an esteemed site. I made a list of long-term goals/dreams that I had for myself a few years ago when I had much, much less to be thankful for. At the top of that list was “write for Prowrestling.net.” I was given the opportunity to do so this year, and nothing has made me happier. I am thankful that this site exists. I am thankful for its contributors. I am thankful for its editor. I am thankful, more than anything, for the readers of this site. It literally would not exist without you.
Nick Perkins is a world (okay, state)-renowned writer who dreamt of being a professional wrestler, until he realized that he was a) the opposite of athletically gifted and b) really, really afraid of being hurt. So he became a writer instead, and has been proclaimed (by himself, as well as close friends and relatives) to be a ‘natural.’
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Jake Barnett discussing the All Elite Wrestling potential startup promotion.